The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a food safety alert on November 26, 2018, concerning romaine lettuce grown in northern and central California. The food safety alert warns consumers of the risk of contracting Escherichia coli (E. coli) from eating contaminated romaine lettuce. The particular strain of E. coli involved in this alert is E. coli O1157:47, a strain that produces the Shiga toxin. Cases of the illness have been reported across the country including part of the east coast, as well as California. If you think you ate lettuce that may have been contaminated, here is how to identify the systems and what to do.
Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems face the greatest risk from E. coli exposure. However, it is possible for anyone to suffer symptoms after eating contaminated food. The strain of E. coli currently causing problems typically causes an onset of the following symptoms:
Symptoms typically appear within a week of eating contaminated food. In healthy adults, these symptoms may only last for about a week. However, this particular strain of E. coli has the potential to cause a severe form of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS are:
These symptoms may also cause severe dehydration, which can potentially be fatal. Anyone who develops symptoms of HUS needs emergency medical treatment immediately. It is possible for this condition to cause kidney failure and long-term renal complications without immediate assistance.
The CDC recommends throwing away all romaine lettuce products that you may have in your home if you do not know its origin, or if it originated in central or northern California. Unfortunately, traceability with some forms of produce is difficult, so it is not always possible to identify the place of origin. If you cannot tell where it came from, throw it away immediately. So far, the CDC has identified the problematic origins of the current E. coli outbreak to Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, and Ventura.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC have recommended all grocery stores and restaurants to carefully identify all romaine lettuce products and dispose of any from the compromised areas. Again, if it is not possible to identify where a romaine lettuce product originated, throw it away immediately. This official recommendation applies to:
It is important to remember to throw away any potentially affected products, especially if you cannot identify its origin. The CDC also provides a step-by-step guide for properly cleaning your refrigerator if you kept any contaminated foods in it.
Symptoms from E. coli exposure typically appear within a few days of eating contaminated food. If you develop any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. While healthy adults are unlikely to develop HUS, it is best to seek a professional opinion to avoid the risk of severe renal complications or kidney failure.
If a restaurant or grocery store sold you contaminated food, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. It is possible to recover medical expenses, lost income from missed time at work, and pain and suffering compensation if a business negligently sold or served contaminated food to customers. If you or a loved one has developed symptoms of E. coli exposure after consuming any romaine lettuce product, contact a product liability attorney in Dallas as soon as possible to determine your legal options.